Blasting Assembly Majority Members For Blocking “Melinda’s Law”

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I,Ref-Canandaigua) and Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda) today criticized Majority members of the Committee on Children and Families for blocking legislation that would offer much-needed protections for victims of domestic violence.

The bill, A.9725 sponsored by Assemblyman Giglio, would establish “Melinda’s Law," a measure that would provide a safe haven that allows victims of abuse to report domestic violence without fear of losing custody of their children. The legislation was one of several legislative proposals resulting from the Assembly Minority’s Task Force on Preventing Domestic Violence, and part of the accompanying report, “A Safe Haven: Helping Abuse Victims and Enhancing Protections.”

“Existing law clearly fails to protect abused parents forced to choose between the safety of their children and having that child taken away. Melinda’s Law addresses a glaring hole in New York state policy and the Assembly Majority’s decision to block it is irresponsible at best,” said Leader Kolb. “Sadly, battered spouses will continue to be forced to stay in dangerous situations in order to keep their children, thanks to today’s vote. This is a matter that demands immediate action, not politically-motivated delays.”

“I am disappointed in the Assembly Majority for blocking this critical measure. Our Conference has worked hard to identify areas in current law that put New Yorkers at risk and this bill would have given parents who want to ensure their child’s safety much-needed protection,” said Assemblyman Giglio. “Instead, systemic domestic violence will continue to go unreported as parents fear the worst-case scenario of losing a child.”

Melinda’s Law was inspired by the story of a woman who suffered from battered person syndrome as a result of more than 20 years of physical and psychological abuse by her husband. When the abuse was eventually directed at the children, Melinda warned her husband that she would go to the authorities if the abuse continued.

In response, Melinda’s husband threatened that if she were to report him, Child Protective Services would take their children away. Unfortunately, current law does not adequately protect the interests of victims of domestic violence, who are deemed virtual accomplices in the abuse despite often being the party who reported the abuse in the first place.

In a household where domestic violence exists, children will often be impacted. When the violence against the children starts to escalate, the non-abusive parent is often threatened with the removal of their children if they call the police. Melinda’s Law would assist the non-abusive parent to report abuse without fear of losing their children.

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